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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Feb 27 - 02:00 PM | Thu Feb 29 - 11:55 AM

Ask PFW: Feeling Draft-y

This week's mailbag, as expected, is dominated by draft-related questions.

What do you think of the Pats swapping their first-round pick with the 49ers #13 pick? The Pats would have to throw in one of their picks in the second round to make the draft value chart work, but it might give them a shot at an impact player like Dez Bryant. This team is in desperate need of a playmaker on either side of the ball and I don't think you can find one by standing "pat."
David Caunter

What are the chances the Patriots land Dez Bryant at 22? Better question: Will the Pats make a move to the #11 or #14 spot in the first round to secure him? We do have three second round picks to deal and trade.
Brent Butterworth

The Patriots won't draft Dez Bryant; if they do, I'll be dumbfounded. They're certainly not going to trade up to get him because, even if they did covet him, his draft stock continues to plummet as teams recognize that his on-field pros are equal to or outweighed by his considerable off-field cons.

His talent as a player, too, is overrated. Watching him on film, he gets open downfield quite a bit … yeah, you would, too, if the corners gave you a 10-15 yard cushion and didn't muscle you at all at the line of scrimmage. I'm not sure how Bryant will hand the man-press coverage at this level. In my mind, he has "bust" written all over him, and I'm not talking about the ones you find in Canton, Ohio.

There are better receivers in this draft (i.e., Golden Tate) who are better people, better players, and better fits for New England's offense. Oh, and they can be acquired with one of the Patriots three second-round picks.
Erik Scalavino

With Santonio Holmes and Brandon Marshall coming to the Jets and Dolphins respectively, the AFC East now looks a little more receiver-heavy. I still think a pass rusher is our #1 need this weekend, but what do you now think of BB & Co taking a corner with one of their top 4 picks? I love Leigh Bodden and Darius Butler, but not many of our other young guys have made much of their opportunities.
Scott Macone

Well, Team PFW has been saying all offseason that defensive back is a position of need for the Patriots, so, yeah, I could definitely see New England drafting a corner in the second round. The Patriots not only need better corners, they need bigger ones, as well, to match up with or even outmatch guys like Marshall and Holmes. The good news is, there are some big, tough cornerbacks available in the middle rounds of this draft. I'm thinking of a particular sleeper pick, whom you should remember because of his unique name and small school: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

He's 6-1, 205, and has run the 40 in the high 4.4 range. What I like even more is that he has experience playing man-press in college, albeit against lesser competition than he'll soon face. I also came away impressed after interviewing him at the Combine. He seems very bright and eager to prove that playing at a small school hasn't inflated his stats.
Erik Scalavino

I was reading over the mock draft just now, and I noticed there is nothing there about a back-up QB. I am a die hard Pats fan and support every player on the team, but I am also aware that when they sit Tom Brady down and when Brian Hoyer steps in as QB things go pretty bad. So can you name any prospects for QB? I know our defense needs work, but a new back-up QB wouldn't be such a bad idea.
Camil Carvajal

Now wait just a minute, Camil. I've got to stick up for my doppelganger, Hoyer. First of all, the only times he "stepped in" last year (his rookie year, by the way, after making the team as an undrafted free agent … says something about his ability, now doesn't it?) were when the games were out of hand. Let's recap, since your memory obviously isn't serving you very well …

Versus Tennessee in the October snow, he came in and led the team to a touchdown (one he scored, by the way) on his first NFL drive. He was 9-of-11 in mop-up duty. In London, he came in late in the fourth and proceeded to tick off a few nice runs, averaging nearly six yards per carry. Against the Saints, he completed just two of his four pass attempts, but I don't remember Brady being that good against New Orleans either, that night. And in his only other extensive action, in the regular season finale against Houston, he held his own, going 8-for-12 for 71 yards. No backup QB looks good when he comes in during a blowout, no matter which side he's leading.

Don't get me wrong, I've been saying for a while now that the Patriots were lucky to have gone an entire season with just one backup QB and that they need a proven veteran to provide some insurance. Drafting a quarterback would provide an extra body on the roster, but wouldn't make me rest easier about the situation behind Brady. What you're suggesting is that New England place its trust in yet another rookie signal caller should Brady go down in a heap like he did in '08. I'm sorry, but I'd rather take my chances with a guy like Hoyer, who at least has a year of experience in the system, than a first-year player, no matter how impressive his credentials.
Erik Scalavino

I don't understand why people think draft picks are so valuable. First- through third-rounders add anything from game-changers to role players, and there are always late round sleepers, but for the most part, late round picks don't become much and are kind of a crapshoot. Why aren't teams more willing to trade their draft picks away for proven commodities? Holmes (fifth round), Anquan Boldin (third, fourth), and Marshall (second) are just examples of getting almost guaranteed 1,000-yard receivers for less than a first round pick, where a guaranteed 1,000-yard receiver would easily get drafted in the first round. I understand that age, time left on a contract, contract costs, and teams not willing to trade makes this more difficult, but it seems that players for picks trades seem to favor the team getting the player (excluding Oakland and Seymour).
*Mark Zimmerman *

Your question is somewhat prescient, as I was just having this conversation with a friend of mine recently. I would much rather take my chances with a player who's proven he can perform at this level than draft a guy with "potential." However, I think you answered your own question with the reasons you cited, particularly the contract issues.
Erik Scalavino

Does PFW have any draft radio show going on at the time of the draft?Shawn Sandhu

Glad you asked, Shawn. We'll be on the air 9-11 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, 6-8 p.m. Friday, and 2-4 p.m. on Saturday. Of course, if the Patriots trade up in the first round, we'll go on the air sooner to cover and analyze the pick. So, stay flexible and keep your web browser open to for all seven rounds.
Erik Scalavino

Hello all, life-time Patriots fan exiled to Baltimore (Ravens fans had their way with me last year) looking forward to last year's draftees making a year-two jump in performance. In addition, players with another year in Patriots system, such as Brandon McGowan, Rob Ninkovitch, Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden, Isaiah Stanback and Fred Taylor, may also see a similar boost. Who do you see out of last year's free agent acquisitions making the largest jump in performance?
Paul Parker

Interesting question. Taylor, at his age, isn't going to be making any leaps. The best you can hope for with him is that he stays healthy for an entire season so he can contribute on a regular basis. Because when he does, he can still "carry the mail," as Bill Belichick described it last year. Same with Springs. What we saw out of Bodden last year is probably what we're going to get from him – solid, nothing spectacular. But that's fine. We probably also saw why the Bears were willing to let McGowan go … too inconsistent. So, the best candidates, it seems, are Stanback and Ninkovich. The former's ability to play two positions makes him a valuable commodity, and having a full year and an offseason program to absorb the system will certainly benefit him further. New England's need for help at receiver will also help his cause because he'll be asked to do more, I would imagine. Ninkovich, as well, has an opportunity at this point, given the team's dearth of talented outside linebackers.
Erik Scalavino

Just curious of your thoughts on Bruce Davis, will he contribute this upcoming year?
Mitch Whetman

The second-year linebacker from UCLA, who spent last season on the practice squad? Honestly, we haven't seen him play enough to have formed any opinion of him. But given his position, we'll be watching him closely this spring/summer to find out what he can or can't do. He certainly looks the part, and should have the opportunity to showcase himself in OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp.
Erik Scalavino

First-time, long-time. How is Wes Welker? Can you give us any updates? Any other word on a Deion Branch deal in the making? Thanks, Shack!!!!!
Mike Shackleton

Hey, Shack, any relation to Sir Ernest? Anyway, the latest update on Welker was that he was in L.A. playing catch with Brady last week. That, according to UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, who reported the news in a Tweet. Seems All-Pro Wes has been spending some quality time on the West Coast of late (you probably saw that picture of him in the tabloids, right?), which, I guess, is a good sign that he's feeling better.

A Branch deal? I thought it would have happened by now, but I think it's less and less likely as time goes by. Unless the Patriots and Seahawks stun us with a draft-weekend blockbuster.
Erik Scalavino

Hey guys, what do you think the chances are we make a move for Kirk Morrison? We obviously have a history of trading with the Raiders, and they don't seem to want him considering the tender they gave him. Do you think he would be a good fit next to Mayo?
David Josey

Well, Morrison signed that tender last week, so he's Raiders property at the moment, whether they like it or not, meaning a trade is the only way of acquiring him, if the Patriots were interested. I like the numbers he's put up in Oakland, and I imagine Bill and the personnel department have taken note, too. Morrison would clearly be an upgrade to the other inside linebacker spot next to Mayo. The fact that New England hasn't made a move for him yet might be another indication that they're considering playing more 4-3 this season, thereby eliminating the need for another starting ILB. Again, maybe a transaction will take place during the draft, but I'm not holding my breath.
Erik Scalavino

I just wanted to know what you guys think of making a trade with Kansas City for Thomas Jones. He is an experienced player who has posted more than 1,000 yards in five of his last six seasons and could actually help us out on the running game that way Brady won't have so much pressure, especially since he won't have Welker for a while on the passing game. I also want to mention that I don't think his age is an excuse for not getting him, since he produced so well last season. Also I wanted to know what are the chances of getting Jason Taylor, he can certainly help our rush defense.
Alberto Gonzalez

Gee, for a former U.S. Attorney General, I would think you could submit a better argument than that! Clearly, if the Patriots wanted Thomas Jones, they could have made him an offer while he was a free agent, like the Chiefs did. It makes no sense to give up something of value for a player who could have been had for nothing more than a contract. New England obviously felt that Jones – a talented back, no doubt – would only have been yet another committee member in the Patriots backfield. Apparently, there weren't willing to give him the kind of money he got from KC to play a part-time role.
Erik Scalavino

Did the Patriots have the worst net punting average in the NFL last year? Will they make any personnel changes to improve? Should the Pats just go for it on 4th down and not consider punting except for some kind of "quick kick" option?
John Gawienowski

The Pats signed this guy [David] King. I understand he played Australian rules football. What do you guys think of him? Is he good at kicking a football? Has he been brought in just to compete for a job as punter? I really don't follow his sport. Any info you can give on this guy would be great.
*Matt Lucia *

Yes, the Patriots had the worst statistical punting (both gross and net) in the NFL last season. The signing of King is a step, it seems, in the direction of improving on that. There's nowhere to go but up, right? But we know as much about King's abilities as you do, having never seen or heard of him before last week's press release was distributed. Give us at least a mini-camp practice or two before we can assess this guy's skills. Regardless, I expect the Patriots to draft a punter this week to provide even more competition at the position – Zoltan Mesko, Robert Malone, Brent Bowden … take your pick.
Erik Scalavino

Why does Josh McDaniels hate us?
Hermey the Great

I don't think he does, but if he did, it would probably be because we have fans who call themselves "Hermey the Great."

(In fairness, Hermey … a regular to Ask PFW … sent this question in under the subject line "Marshall," so clearly he was alluding to the Brandon Marshall trade to Miami. I just felt like poking fun at his name, as I always do. All in good fun, of course.)
*Erik Scalavino *

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